Roth Comes to WHS

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Cover page of Roth’s new book, Carve The Mark

Veronica Roth is a name some of you may have heard before. The author of the bestselling series Divergent, Roth is known by many for her captivating writing skills and amazing storytelling. Recently, she came to WHS, hosting a talk session and Q&A with the students of the school. Here is the part of the interview.
Interviewer: “This first question is from Ella A. Ella knows us too well. Ella wants to know, what is your patronus?”
Roth: “Hmm, okay, so originally, before the Pottermore test that told you your official, true patronus, I decided that mine was an Albatross, because, an albatross is a very large bird and, I too, am a very large bird. (Crowd laughs) Yeah, and albatrosses are wonderful because they’re extremely elegant when flying, like, and it can only crash land. (Crowd laughs loudly) If you watch videos of Albatrosses landing, you’ll see like beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, crash, and then they just kinda shake it off, and I just though, you know, like, that’s me. Like, I look like I might be able to move gracefully, but really, I fall down a lot. But then I usually go and just shake it off. Uh, but my actual pottermore patronus is the Sparrow Hawk.”
Interviewer: “Wow, Sparrow Hawk?”
Roth: “Yeah. Is anyone else in here a Sparrow hawk? (Several people raise hands) Yeah! I wonder, what we’re you?”
Interviewer: Okay, you guys, I didn’t wanna do this cause I was one of those people who were like ‘I don’t need a computer algorithm to tell me blah blah blah’, I was very picky, and my friends were like ‘would you just go on and do this?’ And the moment I started answering the questions I got to do the thing and it said like ‘oh you’re so mysterious’ and stuff, and I was like ‘Yeah, tell me how cool I am, Pottermore!’ And then it popped up, and it was a bat. And I was like ‘this speaks to my dark, tiny, nocturnal soul.’ And my house, I’m a Slytherin. (Slytherin’s in the crowd cheer)”
Roth: “Ha ha, yeah. I’m a Hufflepuff, by the way.” (Hufflepuff’s in the crowd cheer)
Interviewer: “Okay, this is another question from Natalie D. She has a host of great questions that we’ll answer. The first, are you friends with any other authors, and if so, do you help each other with your writing?”
Roth: “The answer is yes. Yeah, I think there’s generally a pretty cool community with the writers, and we all get to connect, you know, behind the scenes. We met online, and honestly, there’s a huge world out there. The internet was and is a great resource for meeting other writers like you.”
Interviewer: “Awesome, so next question, what does literary success look like to you?”
Roth: “Hmm… So, success is like a moving goalpost. For a while, it was just getting a book published, and that was my goal. But once that happened, I was like ‘Okay, well, now there’s all these other things I want.’ It’s kind of a dangerous game to play with yourself, because you’re like ‘oh if I publish then I’ll be happy’ or ‘if I make this much money I’ll be happy’ or ‘if I get x amount of stars I’ll be happy’, but the truth is, reaching those things doesn’t make you happy. For me, I’ve just decided ‘screw all that stuff’, because I’ve reached some amazing goals that I had, and I haven’t reached some others, and none of it made me as happy as, and this is gonna sound so cheesy, none of it made me as happy as marrying my husband and making a home together, so, um, so for me I think success is growing as a writer.”
Interviewer: “I think it’s important to have goals and achievements, like when you start as a writer, your first goal is to finish your book, and then your goal is to start submitting to agents, and then it’s submitting your book to publishers, but the goals should always be things that you can influence. You can’t control if your book is a bestseller or not. You can write the very best book you can and you can do as much promotion as you can, but at the end of the day, you can’t force it.”
Interviewer: “Do you wanna do, just like, one final thing of writing advice, cause I would love to hear, maybe, since we have so many aspiring writers out here, what’s your best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?”
Roth: “Um, okay so I had one writing professor in college who gave me all the most awesome advice in the world, and she gave me two pieces of advice that are super practical. He told me, first off, that writing a book is a lot like climbing a mountain. The details and characters and things that you put in at the beginning are like the things you’re packing in your bag to get to the top of the mountain. You don’t pack a hair dryer to get to the top of a mountain. You don’t need it, so don’t put it in there; it’s just weight. That’s a way that I found to kind of streamline my writing, make my stories a bit faster paced, and generally clean up my writing. The other piece of advice is that, like, I always wanted to write a certain way, I wanted I write like Lainey Taylor. She is a beautiful writer, like, and she does it so well. It’s just really poetic and gorgeous and I always wanted to write that way, but when I tried, it just came out with, like, too many adjectives and, uh, not well executed at all. Not like Lainey Taylor. Uh, so, anyway she, my professor, read my story and saw a section where I had, like, forgotten to try to do that and she’s like ‘this is the best part. You should write like this.’ And, it was a little more sparse, not as many adjectives, which is definitely my style. The point is, whatever your style of writing, there is someone you can look at and think ‘this is amazing,’  and they do so well, but the lesson from my professor was to be the writer that you are. Don’t try to change, or wish to be like someone else. I mean, you can always grow as a writer, but you can’t change everything. And you don’t have to. You can just get better at the things that you do.”
Interviewer: “And I think a lot of people talk about voice when they talk about writing, and finding your voice, and I think it’s important to think about that in this context. Like, you’ll find your voice that sounds the most natural and most commanding, and that’s your voice. That’s the one that will make people sit up and notice. You can really tell when someone’s writing with their most genuine, true voices.”
Veronica Roth is an inspiration to many young authors, including myself. I had to honor of being able to go meet her and her my picture taken, and get a signed copy of her new book, Carve the Mark, now available in book stores.
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Student Kylee Jones getting her photo taken with Roth

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